Sore throats can be caused by bacteria or viruses.  Viral sore throats usually are accompanied by other cold symptoms such as runny nose, congestion and cough. Sometimes you may even have mild body aches and fevers.  Other causes of sore throat can be allergies, open mouth breathing due to congested nose, pollution, and dry air.

If you do have a viral sore throat there are ways to make yourself more comfortable:

  • Drinking warm liquids
  • Gargling with warm salt water
  • Sucking on ice chips
  • Taking over-the-counter medicine which may relieve symptoms of pain or fever

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications that help relieve symptoms include:

  • Tylenol, ibuprofen, or naproxen are great medications for fever and body aches. (Aspirin should not be given to children because of its link to Reye’s Syndrome, a disorder that can cause brain damage and death)
  • There are sprays and lozenges to help sooth your throat. (Young children should not have lozenges)
  • Nasal decongestant sprays may help reduce post-nasal drip (that yucky stuff that runs down your throat). Make sure you do not use these more than 3 days. Using them more may cause rebound congestion.

Antibiotics should not be used to treat a cold virus and sore throat.

Strep throat is caused by streptococcus bacteria. It spreads by having contact with an infected person’s nasal secretions or saliva. The symptoms of strep throat are usually more severe than a sore throat caused by virus.  This is treated by antibiotics and most will feel better after 10 days of treatment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists some of the classic symptoms of strep throat as: sore throat, difficulty swallowing, swollen tonsils, fever, headache, nausea, rash and sometimes vomiting.

If you are unsure if you have a viral infection or strep throat, come see us at Rio Grande Urgent Care.  There are certain tests we can do to diagnose strep throat.

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